+ RMA Rural Municipalities
of Alberta

Resolution 10-07S

Surface Rights Act Review Final Report

January 1, 2007
Expiry Date:
March 31, 2010
Active Status:
Vote Results:

WHEREAS the Surface Rights Act (SRA) has not been reviewed since 1983 despite significant changes in the Albertan landscape; and WHEREAS with member direction from Resolution ER3-06S, the Alberta Association of Municipal District and Counties created the Surface Rights Act Review (SRAR) Task Force to make recommendations on how to amend the SRA; and WHEREAS the Task force completed a series of consultations with key internal and external stakeholders, including AAMDC members and legal experts; and WHEREAS following these consultations the Task Force created a document describing the current situation as it relates to rural landowners and outlining a series of recommendations for improving the SRA; and WHEREAS the report provides recommendations regarding issues such as annual compensation amounts, the Surface Rights Board, Right of Entry orders, and education and awareness campaigns; and WHEREAS the report is guided by the principles of fairness, equitability, flexibility, cooperation, transparency and timeliness;

Operative Clause:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties support the recommendations of the SRAR Report; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the AAMDC Board and administration develop an implementation plan and targeted advocacy strategy pursuant to the recommendations of the SRAR Report.

Member Background:

In 1972, the Province of Alberta approved the Alberta Surface Rights Act, which has not had a major review of content since 1983. The last 20 years has seen tremendous growth in the oil and gas industry within Alberta and major changes in land use. It was determined that there is a need for a comprehensive review by a stakeholder group to help address these changes and the resulting long-ranging effects.At the Spring 2006 AAMDC Reeves and Mayors meeting, it was moved by Sturgeon County that the AAMDC Executive draft an emergent resolution to form a stakeholder group to provide input to the Government of Alberta to address the deficiencies in the Surface Rights Act. This resulted in AAMDC Resolution ER3-06S.The Surface Rights Act Review Task Force is an AAMDC-led initiative that has as its mandate to:- Formulate recommendations on how the Government of Alberta can update the SRA and other relevant legislation to reflect the broader interests of landowners and industry; and- To promote collaborative land management practices in Alberta in relation to the SRA.According to Stakeholder Engagement Plan, the Task Force consulted a number of internal and external stakeholders:- Government of Alberta, Sustainable Resource Development- Rural municipal governments- AAMDC Executive- Farmer's Advocate- Montana Association of Counties- Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities- Law Reform Society of Alberta- Blake's Law Firm: Paul Jeffrey, Q.C.- Canadian Association of Petroleum Landmen- Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers- Darul Carter, Q.C.Following this extensive consultation, the Task Force developed its initial draft, which was commented on by members and the Board. The Task Force then reviewed the feedback and developed the revised final version.

RMA Background:

The Task Force was created as a result of Resolutions ER3-06S which instructs the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties to engage a stakeholder group to provide recommendations to the Government of Alberta to update the Alberta Surface Rights Act and other relevant legislation.Resolution 36-05F – Compensation for Oil & Gas Wells and Right of Ways (STATUS: ACTIVE) urges the provincial government to amend the Surface Rights Act to pay annual compensation from pipelines and to include an entry fee of $1,500 per acre to a maximum of $15,000 per title schedule, and to set land value at 150 per cent of appraised value. The Alberta government believes "loss of use" is the fairest and most appropriate way to compensate landowners for allowing entry to their private lands. The AAMDC is addressing this issue in two ways. First the Association has been in contact with the Law Reform Institute of Alberta. Should they undertake a review of the Act on behalf of government, they will have an AAMDC representative at the table. AAMDC has also undertaken its own review of the Surface Rights Act. This review will be completed in March, 2007.Resolution 12-06S – Compensation for Oil & Gas Wells and Pipelines (STATUS: ACTIVE) urges the provincial government to amend the Surface Rights Act to include a schedule that reflects current oil and gas prices and the potential for a change of use for the land; and also, that the AAMDC encourage the provincial government to pursue annual compensation on all pipelines within all quarter sections. To date, only preliminary discussions have taken place at the provincial level. It is hoped that the Law Reform Institute will be willing to take on this project. The AAMDC has also taken on its own review of the compensation issue under the mandate of the Surface Rights Act Review task force.


The AAMDC Board of Directors commissioned the AAMDC Surface Rights Act Review Task Force. The first meeting was held in summer of 2006. In March 2007, the Task Force released its final report entitled Digging Deeper: Bringing Albertas Surface Rights Act into the 21st Century. SRD received the report in 2007 and has notified the AAMDC that it will be used as tool to facilitate future consultations on the Surface Rights Act. On July 15, 2008, the Government of Alberta announced that an MLA committee will assist the Alberta government with implementation of key priorities of Albertas Land-use Framework, including the development of a transportation and utility corridors strategy, a recreation strategy and a review of landowners rights legislation. The committee will be chaired by Evan Berger, MLA for Livingstone-Macleod and Parliamentary Assistant for Sustainable Resource Development, and will report back to Minister Morton. One aspect of this committees work will be a review of the Surface Rights Act. In early September 2008, MLA Evan Berger formally requested a copy of Digging Deeper. The committee will be using the AAMDC report as a primary source of ideas and will consider its recommendations in reviewing the Surface Rights Act.

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